Category Archives for Church

A Word to Young Preachers about Pride

May 6, 2016

Dr. David Allen | Dean of the School of Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

**This article was previously posted by Dr. David L. Allen on his website www.drdavidlallen.com and is used by permission. 

Dr. Allen is: Dean of the School of Theology, Professor of Preaching, Director of the Center for Expository Preaching, and George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Learn more about Dr. Allen, HERE.
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NOTE: This post is slightly revised from David L. Allen, 1-3 John: Fellowship in God’s Family, in Preaching the Word, R. Kent Hughes, ed. (Wheaton: IL, 2013), 275-77.

If you are in a leadership position in someone’s church, and especially if you are a pastor, let me offer a salient word of warning: Don’t become a Diotrephes who loves to be first. We all know preachers who are too big for their britches. You know the type. In the extreme, this is the guy who can strut sitting down. He exudes arrogance, either in the pulpit, outside the pulpit, or both. Joseph Parker, contemporary of Spurgeon, painted the picture of the prideful person in unforgettable prose: “Here is a little contemptible person who stuffs the unworthy sack, which he calls himself, with the shavings and sawdust of his own self interest.”

Probably for must preachers, however, our pride is not that extreme, but it is pride nonetheless. The Scripture has much to say about pride. Pride caused Satan to be cast out of heaven. Pride caused Adam and Eve to sin and be cast out of the garden. It brought down prophets, priests, and kings in the Old Testament. It kept many a Pharisee and Sadducee out of heaven in Jesus’ day. It caused Pilate to wash his hands concerning Jesus of Nazareth.

Pride goes before a fall the Scripture says. Of the seven things God says he hates, first on the list is pride (Proverbs 6:16–19). There are few sins as destructive as pride. The Latin word for pride is “superbia” which means “aspiring to be on top.” More than one preacher has been brought low by pride. Only God is on top.

Like John, from the early church through today, preachers have warned their fellow preachers about pride. John Chrysostom (the “golden mouthed”) called pride the chief sin of preachers. He concluded his rhetorically powerful list of sins with the memorable line: “. . . all these and many other kinds of beasts dwell upon that rock of pride.”

Don’t miss Spurgeon’s chapters “The Minister’s Self-Watch” and “The Minister’s Fainting Fits” in his Lectures to My Students. In the latter, Spurgeon pungently states: “Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are.” Andrew Blackwood, the great homiletician, once stated that among preachers, “pride still remains Soul Enemy Number One.”

C. S. Lewis said concerning pride: “There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves the more we dislike it in others.” When we are genuinely humble, we should beware lest Satan smuggle the thought of our own humility into our mind.

Preachers especially must guard against vainglory and false modesty, which is just another form of pride. Beware when pride shows up in the guise of humility. Leave it to Mark Twain to cleverly drive this point home: “If I ever achieve humility, I’ll sure be proud of it.”

The worm of pride is ever threatening to eat into the fruit of the Spirit in your life. The poison of pride ever sits inconspicuously on life’s shelf. Sometimes it takes very little to puff up these proud preacher hearts of ours. A little success, a little prosperity, and we are ready to burn incense to our own accomplishments. Let the world bestow on us a few of its flatteries and we are ready to throw in our lot with it.

Pride is ever beside you in the crowded highway and the lonely street. It follows you to the office, to the pulpit and back home again. It dogs your footsteps when you go to church, kneels beside you when you pray, and whispers in your ear while you preach. It assaults your every relationship; your every sacrifice; and every sermon. It is your constant companion, arriving early and staying late. It never leaves you night and day ‘till death do you part. Pride is the hound of hell that can only be defeated by the hound of heaven.

The fact is, most of us just don’t like to humble ourselves. It’s not in our nature. But the Lord knows how to balance our lives. He will allow almost anything to prevent spiritual pride and to quash it when it rears its ugly head in our lives. James reminds us to “humble ourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:10). Continue reading

Reviving a Dying Church

April 19, 2016

Randy Adams | Executive Director
Northwest Baptist Convention

**This article was previously posted by Randy Adams on his website randyadams.org and is used by permission.

Thirty years ago this April I began my first pastorate. It was a dying church – dead really. Today we would call it a “legacy church plant.” There were ten people who attended our first Sunday, all but one retired, with the one being a teenage boy. I’m not sure why the boy was there, except that he lived on the other side of the cemetery. The cemetery, church, and a small school building, long since closed, bordered each other. The Thurmond family gave the property for these three entities in the 1890s, each deemed important for a community in those days.

My wife and I served that church for 3 ½ formative years, formative for us and for that church and community. I soon learned that the former pastor recommended that the church disband and give the building to the local Baptist association. He had reasoned this was their best option since they hadn’t baptized anyone in four years, only had a Sunday morning worship service with few attenders, and little prospect of seeing things turn around. The few attenders, most of whom had lived there all their lives, considered his suggestion, but decided to give it “one more try,” which meant giving one more seminary student an opportunity to “learn on them.”

We moved into the parsonage, which hadn’t been lived in for a few years. They tried to get it ready for us, but they hadn’t killed the scorpions, which we killed by the dozens. Then there were the skunks under the house. I would sit up at night, with a light shining into the yard, waiting for the skunks to come out. I shot them once they got far enough from the house that they couldn’t get back before they died. The house wasn’t much, but it was rent free, and that was most of our pay, so we were grateful to have it.

We had no neighbors, except cattle and the cemetery. And we had fireflies, hundreds of them that spring! One night I caught a couple of dozen in a mason jar and released them into our bedroom. I must say, it was quite romantic having those fireflies lighting up our room. But they all died so I only did that one time.

When I think back on those days, I am grateful that we came from a church that taught us how to share the gospel, and believed you had to take the gospel to the people, not wait for them to come to you. So that’s what we did. We began to visit the homes in that rural area, and a few more people started coming. The real breakthrough came that summer when Curtis Aydelotte gave his life to Christ.

I went to Curtis’s house and visited with his wife Kandy. She said that she would be at church with her kids but her husband wouldn’t because “he doesn’t go to church.” But the next day there he was. Within a month he received Christ and became the first person baptized in that church in 4 years. Curtis was 47 years old. He later told me that when I came to his house he was sick in bed with a migraine, but he could see me out the window. When his wife told him I was a preacher, he said, “Huh, a preacher who wears blue jeans. I think I’ll try that church.” That was 30 years ago and Curtis and Kandy are still serving Christ in their senior years.

Others soon came to know Christ. Families were transformed. The church grew. We never became large, but that church is still there today. The ten there when we arrived are all dead, save the one boy, but the church remains.

A fellow seminary student asked me, “How do you get motivated to preach to so few people?” That was an odd question to me. Motivation was not a problem. For one thing, I was visiting people throughout the week, sharing Christ with them, and inviting them to church. If they came and I wasn’t prepared for them, that would be a tragedy. Moreover, every individual who came needed, and deserved, to hear a well-prepared message from God’s Word just as much as the attender of a mega-church did. A further motivation for me, I must admit, was that I was learning how to preach and how to pastor God’s people. These both required hard work. I was young and knew that I wouldn’t be at that church forever. But if I did not serve them well, why should God give me any other ministry? Besides, this was what God called me to, and I was having a lot of fun.

We saw a “little revival” in that church and community. It came as the pastor, and then the church, began to share Christ with others. It came as our little church gained confidence that God was at work, and that they could invite people to attend with the confidence that God could use us to bring eternal life to others. Within two years, God even used our church to start another church about seven miles away. We were the first church to start a church in that association in about ten years. That served to motivate other churches, much bigger churches, to do the same.

Those years at Fairview Baptist Church were good years. We learned a lot, and we saw God do a good work.

This Sunday, April 3, I’ll be preaching at Orchards Baptist Church in Lewiston, ID, beginning a four-day revival emphasis. I pray that we see God do deep work in that church, and that lost people are drawn to Jesus. But I do know this, if your church needs revival, share the Gospel on a regular basis and lead your church to do the same. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to save a person from sin, and nothing revives a church like God’s people getting right with Him, and then sharing the gospel with others.

Several years ago I saw Curtis Aydelotte at a funeral. He told me that recently he had crashed his motorcycle and was sliding down the road, certain he would die. But he said, “It was amazing because I wasn’t afraid. I was sliding down the road and I knew I would be with God.” He said, “That’s the thought that hit my brain. I knew I’d be with God – and I wasn’t afraid.” Then he said, “I thought you’d like to know that.”

Curtis was right. I did like hearing that. It demonstrated that the Jesus he had come to know decades before, through the ministry of a little reviving church, is powerful, and His salvation is eternal.

Continue reading

2. Tracking Our Church Planting Progress

April 12, 2016

Dr. Rick Patrick | Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL

According to the NAMB website, the North American Mission Board currently pulls its church planting data from the Annual Church Profile. Unfortunately, this results in untimely and incomplete information. For example, in March of 2015, the most recent data available was from 2013—an unacceptable lag of two full years. Additionally, the notion that our church plants should merely report the same basic information that our established churches report is simply false. These plants do not have church status yet as they are being financially supported by the Southern Baptist Convention. As we examine our investment, we have the right to expect a greater amount of information.

In 2010, 943 churches were planted. Three years later, 80% were still functioning. While that is not a bad rate of survival, we should not have had to wait until 2015 to obtain this data. Right now, we should be able to compare 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. We should be able to track data in an ongoing manner with mandatory annual reporting by church plants to NAMB. If a church plant fails to report, they should lose their funding. Continue reading

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